General Information

Introduction and Mission

The Water Resources Program (WRP) offers the Master of Water Resources (MWR) degree, an interdisciplinary professional degree designed to prepare students for careers in water resources. The program's physical location in the Southwestern USA means that there is a focus on dry-region region water issues; however, the MWR degree is designed to provide its students a firm grounding in water resources that is applicable to any region. The MWR degree is not designed to prepare students for the Ph.D. degree or a career in research. The degree program assumes a basic proficiency in at least one water-related discipline (defined rather broadly) - engineering, sociology, management, public administration, environmental studies, economics, law, chemistry, planning, political science, geology, geography, and biology, among others -- or professional experience in the water field.

The mission of the MWR degree is to expand and deepen students' knowledge of their primary disciplines and, at the same time, provide them with an integrated perspective on water in nature and society, improve their capacity to think carefully and comprehensively, and develop their technical and communications skills.

One of the unique aspects of the MWR degree is its sequence of three 4-credit interdisciplinary courses: Contemporary Issues; Models; and Field Problems. These courses, facilitated/taught by faculty teams, encourage teamwork and oral, graphic and written communication skills to identify and solve water resources problems.

The MWR degree is obtained by following one of two concentrations: the Hydroscience or the Policy/Management concentration. Each consists of 39 semester credits: 36 credits of coursework plus 3 credits for a professional project. The Hydroscience concentration is designed primarily for students with technical backgrounds (biology, chemistry, earth/environmental sciences, mathematics, toxicology, physics, physical geography, engineering, etc.) who wish to complement their primary discipline by obtaining expertise in water resources with an emphasis on the scientific/engineering aspects of water. Students without technical backgrounds may select this concentration but may have more remedial courses. The Policy/Management concentration is designed for students with diverse backgrounds -- the natural sciences, political science, economics, sociology, management, engineering, geography, psychology, public administration, law, community and regional planning, public health, etc. -- who wish to emphasize those aspects of water dealing with economics, policy, administration, management and planning. The curriculum for each concentration is flexible, enabling a student, with his/her advisor and committee providing guidance, to design a course of study in accord with his/her career objectives.

The interdisciplinary character and practical orientation of the MWR program reflect the growing complexity of water issues. Over the past thirty-five years, population shifts, industrial developments, changes in water law, and advances in technology have intensified competition for water resources and placed new burdens of decision on the people who manage them. Increasing problems of water pollution, for example, require not only an understanding of water chemistry and transport systems but an appreciation for the short- and long-term implications of water allocation and land-use practices as well as an ability to communicate and work effectively with specialists in various fields, policymakers, and concerned citizens. In short, effective water resource professionals need many competencies. Establishing and integrating those competencies is the goal of the MWR degree program.

The Water Resources Program has conducted applied research in a variety of areas: of water quality and quantity in the Kura-Araks basin of the South Caucasus; the effects of climate change on the hydrology and water availability in the Upper Rio Grande Basin; ground-water arsenic levels and ground-water flow in the Fernley, Nevada, area; and appropriate technology; water resources development in Honduras and on the Epera Indian reservation, Darien Province, Panama; and the development of a Central American Water Resources Development Center in Honduras. Links to some of these sites are found in the site index.

The Program is administratively housed in University College, whose Dean is Dr. Peter L. White.Flood at Rendija Canyon, near Los Alamos, Summer 2000



A Program Committee is responsible for setting policy and establishing the rules and regulations governing the Water Resources Program and its Master of Water Resources degree. The 2005-2006 academic year Program Committee members are: Dr. Michael E Campana (Director, Water Resources Program); Dr. Julia E. Allred Coonrod (Civil Engineering); Dr. Janie Chermak (Economics); Dr. David Gutzler (Earth and Planetary Sciences); Dr. José A. Rivera (Community and Regional Planning); Professor G. Emlen Hall (School of Law); Dr. Greg Gleason (Political Science); and Dr. John W. Shomaker (President, JWS & Associates, Inc.); Mr. Erik Galloway (Alumni Representative, New Mexico Department of the Environment) and Ms. Jeanine McGann (President, Association of Water Professionals). The Director is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the WRP and the MWR degree program.

The Water Resources Program has also established an external advisory board comprised of MWR alumni and others in the water resources community. Members include: Ms. Jean Witherspoon, City of Albuquerque; Dr. John W. Shomaker, John W. Shomaker and Associates; Dr. Bob Vocke, Los Alamos National Laboratory; Mr. Mike Hamman, Jicarilla Apache Tribe; Mr. Casey W. Cook, Balleau Groundwater; Ms. Blanca Surgeon, Rural Community Assistance Corporation; Dr. Chris Nunn Garcia; Mr. Erik Galloway, New Mexico Environment Department; and Ms. Linda Weiss, P.E., U.S. Geological Survey.

( Photos above and below: Flood at Rendija Canyon, near Los Alamos, Summer 2000)


In 1991, the Master of Water Resources Administration (MWRA) degree was formally initiated at the University of New Mexico in response to the need for well-educated water resources administrators, who could balance competing economic, social, technological, ecological and cultural requirements. This 36 semester-credit professional degree Flood at Rendija Canyon, near Los Alamos, Summer 2000helped organize and package the considerable water expertise of the UNM campus in a manner that made it readily available to students and citizens of New Mexico. The interdisciplinary nature of the degree assured that its graduates were exposed to the issues and conflicts facing today's water managers as well as the solutions being proposed. The core of the degree brought diverse faculty together to present their knowledge in an integrated manner. Without the MWRA degree, this integrated view of water management problems and potential solutions was not possible within highly structured, discipline-focused university departments and traditional degree programs.

We graduated our first student in 1991; 90 students have received MWRA or MWR degrees.

In 1995, a Professional Project was initiated in place of the Master's comprehensive exam. No semester credits were given for the project.

In 1998, the highly-structured MWRA degree became the current Master of Water Resources (MWR) degree. The more flexible two-track MWR degree affords students greater options in their coursework program (Policy/Management or Hydroscience) and expands the number of available participating faculty. Three semester credits were given for the Professional Project, bringing the total number of semester credits to 39. The Water Resources Program, the graduate unit responsible for administering the degree, was transferred to UNM's University College, which is rapidly becoming a home for UNM's interdisciplinary programs.


The Program occupies six offices in the Social Sciences-Economics Building (Building 57; view a campus map at

The Program has a Computer Lab that all WRP students are welcome to use. It is located in Room 1036 of the Economics Building. Students are eligible for keys that will afford them access to the building after hours. A phone is available for student use (505-277-0777).

Next door to the Computer Lab is a student workroom (Room 1040) with a microwave oven, coffeemaker, refrigerator, couch and desks. Room 1041 houses Graduate Research Assistants and the Association of Water Professionals, the student organization.

There is a UNM Computer Pod in Room 1004 of the Economics Building. This is sometimes reserved for Economics classes, but it is available at certain times for general student use. Check the room for open hours. Other pods are also available across the campus.

The Program has also equipment that may be checked out for student work. Items include: a Kodak digital camera, altimeter, GPS units, water level meters, water quality meters, two-way radios, rangefinders, a clinometer, tape measures, etc.

Lockers are available along the wall of the west hall in the Economics Building. If you want a locker for storage of personal items, just put your own lock on an empty locker. No permission is necessary.

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